All posts by sabines

How I Updated My Kitchen On a Budget

Blocked In

My kitchen has come a long way in the three years since I bought our fixer upper. I wish I had more before pictures to show you just how dirty and rundown this place really was. Sometimes even I forget our home didn’t always look like this. Since I only had a small budget to work with, I did 99% of the remodel myself. The only help I had, was with hanging the drywall in the bathroom.

I want to share with you the upgrades I have done in our kitchen. These upgrades didn’t cost much, but they work for us and make the kitchen look clean and bright.

#1. Stained the kitchen cabinets

kitchen cabinets makeover

The first thing I tackled were the kitchen cabinets. I didn’t like the look of oak with gold knobs, so I stained them with my favorite gel stain. Three years later, the stain is still holding up great. I used the same stain on my bathroom vanity.

kitchen upgrades diy

#2. Updated cabinet knobs

new hardware

I updated the gold knobs with simple, silver knobs. The quality of these knobs is outstanding.

#3. Installed vinyl tile

kitchen upgrades diy

The floors in this house used to be horrible. Old, dingy carpeting, full of pet stains and cigarette smells, ran throughout the house (even in the kitchen). Under most of it were beautiful hardwood floors, which I restored.

hardwood floor refinish

The kitchen, unfortunately, didn’t have wood floors so I chose a vinyl tile. It’s super durable and easy to install.

vinyl floor

#4. Created a pantry

bookshelf to pantry

When my oldest graduated and moved out of her college apartment, we found these two generic bookshelves , left behind by college kids. When I saw the bookshelves I knew I could turn it into a pantry, which my kitchen was lacking.

bookshelf to pantryI added doors and knobs, which match my kitchen cabinets.


#5. Updated light fixtures

boob light

The “boob” light as well as the table got a makeover. I replaced the light with this black pendant.

pendant light

new pendant light

pendant light

The light above the sink was replaced with this $6 pendant. I love the simple design (and the price).



#6. Built a kitchen island
DIY Kitchen Island

A few months after we moved in, I built this kitchen island. It’s made with 2 x 4’s and gives us the much needed counter space.


#7. Made a new table top

DIY Kitchen Table top

Our old table worked fine in our old apartment, but wasn’t very functional for this kitchen. I built a new, larger table top but kept the legs. I then took the old table top and placed it on my island. Now I have even more counter space.


#8. Installed a backsplash

back splash diy

I added a board and batten backsplash made from leftover faux wood blinds.

#9. Painted the walls

kitchen upgrades diy

I painted the walls a light grey color – Moonshine by Benjamin Moore.

low cost kitchen upgrades

GIVEAWAY! HomeRight ElectroLight Fire Starter



Last year, I got my first charcoal grill. One of the things that kept me from getting one for so long was the lighter fluid situation. I’m not a fan of lighter fluid and certainly didn’t want a gasoline scented burger. Turns out, I didn’t need lighter fluid.


HomeRight let me try their ElectroLight Fire Starter. The ElectroLight allows you to easily light your charcoal barbecue grill, wood burning fireplace or fire pit in 2-3 minutes. It uses high 1,300°F temperature air to ignite and then fan the flames with built-in blower. No need for lighter fluid or other starter chemicals.

  • Durable polycarbonate handle, aluminum cooling shroud, steel cased heating element and cooling stand
  • Intermittent power switch controls heating element and blower
  • 10 ft. heavy gauge grounded power cord
  • Durable heating element, motor and switch to last for hundreds of lights
  • 2-year limited manufacturer warranty

Charcoal grilling is well worth the extra effort. If you apply a little patience, a charcoal grill can probably cook some of the most flavorful, mouth-watering meals.


Now one of my readers can win an ElectroLight. Your coals will be ready fast and your food won’t taste like gasoline. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Post contains affiliate links.**

Bookcase To Pantry (adding doors)

bookshelf to pantry

bookshelf to pantry

bookshelf to pantry

Our kitchen is large and has lots of wall space, but lacks cabinet and counter space. I already added a DIY island, which helps enormously with food prepping, but I still needed a pantry.

So I took two free bookshelves (you can read more about them here) and turned them into a pantry.

The first thing I did was stain the outside of the bookshelves the same color as my kitchen cabinets. I used General Finishes Java Gel Stain. java gel stain

This stuff is amazing. I used it on my kitchen and bathroom cabinets, over three years ago, and the stain is holding up great.


Another favorite of mine is the General Finishes Polyacrylic top coat.  It’s a clear varnish that’s also very durable and easy to apply.

bookcase pantry

Next, I added doors. My cabinet doors are made with 1/2 inch MDF. Home Depot cut them for me free of charge. I stained the doors and applied the poly.

bookshelf to pantry

Once everything was dry, I added the hardware. I chose the same silver knobs and hinges  I used for my kitchen cabinets. They’re from National Hardware and are super high quality. These knobs will last forever. I also used their hardware for my garage makeover.

Now it was time to hang the doors. This was the hardest part. Hanging doors without an extra pair of hands isn’t easy, let me tell you. Twice, one of the doors fell on my head. I’m ok, in case you’re wondering. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? The doors are up and I’m happy with the result.

bookshelf pantry

bookshelf pantry


In the future I might add trim to the doors. For now, I’m liking the clean lines.

So, if you have any extra space in the kitchen (or any other room) and need storage, consider getting a generic bookcase (many people already have one in the house) and turn it into an armoire, pantry, TV cabinet, or anything else you might envision.

Concepts In Wood Multi-Use Storage Pantry in Espresso

This one is similar to mine. It’s from Home Depot and was originally $297.

**Post contains affiliate links.**